The Hill -- Obama to huddle with top Senate Dems on legislative plans ahead of recess

Having secured the two New England Republicans necessary to pass the Dodd-Frank bank bill in the Senate (Brown and Snowe) Democrats are only waiting for West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin to take care of his own political ambitions and make an appointment to the Senate (as Examiner colleague Susan Ferrechio makes clear.) before they can roll out their last legislative offensive before campaign season.

Writer Michael O’Brien tells us what’s likely to be discussed when President Obama huddles with Majority Leader Harry Reid and the rest of the Senate Democratic leadership.

With the economy faltering again, expect Obama to be pushing hard for relief and stimulus measures – perhaps his $23 billion package for public school teachers.

(My column about Obama’s primary economic misunderstanding is here.)

But the Senate is stalled on lots of Democratic issues, and the condition is worsening as liberals bridle at the commands of the electoraly embattled Reid and moderate Democrats move as far away from the president as political decency will allow.

The month ahead looks to be a testing time for Obama and Reid, especially because the president’s plan calls for pushing an aggressive agenda to fire up the Left.

The downside to the president’s strategy of a base-versus-base election, as Examiner colleague Julie Mason explains, is that in trying to induce a productive panic to motive your team by talking about looming defeat, you might just induce defeatism.

The biggest ticket in the category of base-pleasing legislation will be some kind of oil/energy/global warming/punish big oil kind of bill.

Lawmakers are again talking up the prospect of some compromise on the issue, but I doubt there are 60 Senate votes for anything on energy other than something strictly related to the Gulf.

“More broadly, Obama may press the senators on other top priorities, like an energy and climate bill, and immigration reform legislation, which the president has said he would like to see set into motion this year. Obama has also called on senators to ratify the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with Russia before November.”


New York Times -- U.S. Issues Revised Offshore Drilling Ban

The well is capped and the cap might hold. After three months of gushing gas and crude into the Gulf, BP may finally have stopped the bleeding.

But the political battles are only just beginning.

The administration is now trying to re-impose a deepwater drilling ban struck down by a federal judge as arbitrary. The new ban allows for drilling to continue if companies with permits go through a lengthy and more stringent re-permitting process. It’s not a ban, you see. It just has the effects of one.

One question has also been answered – Interior Secretary said the ban would last until Nov. 30. That means he is giving credit for the two months of the original ban already elapsed.

As the end of the active part of the disaster hove into view, the Obama administration will continue to feel pressure to show strength and authority on a subject that has done so much damage to perceptions of the president’s leadership.

Salazar, fighting for his own job, and Attorney General Eric Holder, fighting to prove that he is better than everyone else, have their own reasons to keep the pressure on.

Writer John Broder explains:

“The main lobby for the oil industry, the American Petroleum Institute, criticized the new order, saying it would worsen the economic hardship already being felt across the Gulf Coast.

‘It is unnecessary and shortsighted to shut down a major part of the nation’s energy lifeline while working to enhance offshore safety,’ Jack Gerard, the association’s president, said in a statement. ‘It places the jobs of tens of thousands of workers in serious and immediate jeopardy and promises a substantial reduction in domestic energy production. No certain and expeditious path forward has been established for a resumption of drilling.’”


Washington Post -- NAACP to vote on controversial resolution condemning 'tea party' supporters

Kind of an off-week for race relations in America.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson said that the jilted owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers treated basketball star LeBron James like a runaway slave because he vented in public about James’ showboating departure from the team.

Now, a weird, paranoid session of the NAACP’ national convention.

The first lady spoke Tuesday to the group about the need for black Americans to “increase intensity” in order to end “inequalities” with whites before going into her stump speech about the childhood obesity. Mrs. Obama didn't say what intensity needed to be increased or to what specific goal, just that black Americans needed to increase it.

(The first lady will keep up her more political bent today at an event to hype the benefits of her husband’s national health-care plan.)

But today, the NAACP seeks to close some of inequalities of which Michelle Obama spoke by… denouncing tax protestors as racist.

The group is expected to widely approve a measure that will denounce the participants in Tea Party rallies across the country as, at best, abetting racism if not being outright hateful themselves.

NAACP leaders have called the small-government movement “a threat to democracy” (!) and an effort to roll back a century of progress on civil rights.

Despite the fact that the most incendiary claim about the protesters – that a chorus of racial epithets were hurled at black members of Congress heading to vote for Obamacare – has been substantially debunked, the NAACP is pushing the idea that there is a strong racist undertone to the opposition to Obama policies.

What this will do to help black people, I do not know. But it can be counted on to worsen race relations.

Writer Krissah Thompson:

“Gina Loudon, one of the founders of the St. Louis Tea Party, told Fox News that the NAACP's charges are untrue and called the resolution a ‘shame.’

‘I can't believe that the tea party is even going to be put in a position of dignifying something like that,’ she said. ‘This is sad, because this established organization is being used by the left.’


Fox News -- Muslim Outreach Not the Job of NASA, White House Says

President Obama’s NASA administrator said that the president gave him a prime directive to encourage Muslim self-esteem by using the space program to highlight historical achievements in math and science by those of the Islamic faith.

After staying mostly mum on the subject, the administration is now saying that their top space man is mistaken and that no such directive was given.

So now the obvious question: How can the administration leave in a sensitive post an official capable of what must either be a boggling misunderstanding or a fabrication?

Throwing director Charles Bolden under the bus might be necessary to save some of the White House’s low-trajectory space plan that focuses on international cooperation, not American success.

But having publicly zapped Bolden for his comments, now the president will likely have to replace him after a decorous period.

“The White House also backed up Bolden last week when his remarks first stirred controversy. A White House spokesman last Tuesday said Obama wants NASA to engage with the world's best scientists and that to meet that challenge, NASA must ‘partner with countries around the world like Russia and Japan, as well as collaboration with Israel and with many Muslim-majority countries.’

NASA last week walked back Bolden's claim that Muslim outreach was the ‘perhaps foremost’ plank of his mission, saying that Bolden was merely talking about his ‘outreach’ responsibilities and that space exploration is still NASA's No. 1 job.

But Gibbs on Monday appeared to deny that Bolden was asked to focus on Muslim outreach at all.”


Washington Post -- Confidence in Obama reaches new low, Washington Post-ABC News poll finds

The Post/ABC poll, which leans Democratic, shows President Obama’s overall approval slipping back to 50 percent, it’s level during the worst of the Obamacare fight. More troubling for the president, the drops in sub-categories show voters turning their backs.

It’s not a very useful poll in predicting elections.

For example, the survey asks how “enthusiastic are you about voting for the (Democrat/Republican) in your Congressional district this year” and finds members of the parties tied, That doesn’t measure voter enthusiasm, that measures candidate satisfaction, something completely different.

But even so, the poll provides some revealing insights:

--Confidence in Obama to “make the right decisions for the country's future” continues steady drop since spring of 2009 to a new low of 43%.

--Approval for Obama’s role as commander-in-chief holds at a sturdy 55%.

--The president’s job approval for his handling of the economy dropped 7 points since June to a new low of 43 %.

--Republicans pull ahead in generic congressional ballot (47% to 46%) for the first time since February.

--51% of registered voters said it was better to put Republicans in charge of Congress to block Obama compared to 43% who said it was better to keep Democrats there in order to help him.